Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1421, (6 - 12 December 2018)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1421, (6 - 12 December 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Steps to Beijing in 2020

The 14th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity closed in Sharm El-Sheikh at the end of November, reports Mahmoud Bakr


Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad during the conference
Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad during the conference

The 2018 Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 14) closed on 29 November in Sharm El-Sheikh with broad international agreement on the need to reverse the global destruction of nature and biodiversity that is threatening all forms of life on Earth.

To combat the crisis, governments agreed to accelerate action to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed in 2010, from now until 2020. Work to achieve these will take place at the global, regional, national and subnational levels, and the meeting also agreed on a comprehensive process for developing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework anticipated for the next Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Beijing in 2020.

The framework aims to help safeguard nature and biodiversity for decades to come.

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, thanked the delegates for their work at the meeting. She laid out the scientific case that humankind is currently on an unsustainable path that involves a continuing loss of biodiversity with cascading consequences for nature and human society, including the availability of food and water, human security, health and well-being.

 “Nature is dynamic and interrelated, and so must be our response. We must move from the very real incremental change that we have created to a model that continues to push incremental wins while also fundamentally reaching for transformational change. As this COP shows, we have already begun this journey,” she said.

To engage all sectors and stakeholders, the governments of Egypt and China and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity announced the launch of a Sharm El-Sheikh to Beijing Action Agenda for Nature and People to collect and celebrate actions taken in support of biodiversity conservation.

Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, the COP 14 president, reiterated that ministers and heads of delegation had welcomed Egypt’s initiative to promote a coordinated approach to addressing biodiversity loss, climate change, and land and ecosystems degradation.

She called on the UN General Assembly to convene a summit on biodiversity at the level of heads of state prior to the COP15 in 2020 and for countries to complete the achievement of their strategic plans under the UN convention before the end of this decade.

Fouad stressed Egypt’s appreciation of the opportunity to host the COP 14, with delegations from countries, organisations and institutions meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh over 17 days under the slogan “Investing in Biodiversity for the People and the Planet”.

“We need to think seriously about systemic transformation and a new social contract to protect the global commons,” Naoko Ishii, chair of the Global Environment Facility, said at the opening of the COP 14. “Nature and people deserve a new deal,” Ishii said. “2020 offers one last opportunity for the global community to get its act together. Let’s not miss it.”

Other announcements and decisions made at the conference included an African Ministerial Summit held immediately prior to COP 14 that had produced a Ministerial Declaration as well as the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience.

There was a COP 14 decision on cooperation calling for the UN General Assembly to designate 2021 to 2030 as the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. The Business and Biodiversity Forum at the COP 14 produced recommendations to further strengthen private-sector and corporate engagement in support of biodiversity.

Building on the theme of the conference, the COP 14 adopted a long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming biodiversity into the work of a number of sectors, including energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing, and health, with a view to contributing to the post-2020 process.

A Nature and Culture Summit announced activities to advance work on biological and cultural diversity in collaboration with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and indigenous peoples and local communities.

Voluntary guidelines were adopted on various issues, including on the design and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction, the repatriation of traditional knowledge, and the integration of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures into wider land- and seascapes.

Decisions for further studies and discussions under a number of Technical Expert Groups were also adopted, in particular for synthetic biology and digital sequence information. The meeting also adopted a procedure for avoiding conflicts of interest in expert groups under all three bodies of the convention.

It adopted decisions on issues related to the three objectives of the convention, including pollinators, sustainable wildlife management, health, invasive alien species and resource mobilisation, as well as on issues related to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, including risk assessment and risk management, socio-economic considerations, specialised international access and benefit-sharing instruments.

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